News, Culture & Society

Coronavirus UK: Venues may have metal detector-style arches

Audiences could have to walk through metal detector-style arches spraying disinfectant mist as they enter music venues and theatres under raft of new Covid measures to get doors open

  • Plans for the arches have been promoted by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • Recently met with Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, to see them in action 
  • Welcomed plans and vowed to ‘work intensively’ to get theatres open for pantos 

Audiences could have to walk through metal detector-style arches to be sprayed with disinfectant mist as they enter theatres and gigs under a raft of new Covid measures to reopen the entertainment industry.

Plans for the arches have been promoted by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who met with Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, at the London Palladium to see them in action alongside a range of other safety equipment.

Mr Dowden praised the measures as ‘very comprehensive’ and vowed to continue ‘working intensively’ to allow theatres to open in time for the vital Christmas panto season.

Plans for the arches have been promoted by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, (middle) who met with Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, (left) at the London Palladium to see them in action

Disinfectant spray is already used in venues in Asia, including this theatre in South Korea (pictured today)

Disinfectant spray is already used in venues in Asia, including this theatre in South Korea (pictured today) 

The arches could be used alongside other measures including temperature checks, masks and hand sanitiser.

Disinfectant spray has already been used at theatres in the South Korean capital Seoul and in Chinese cities as part of measures to get the economy moving.

After seeing it in action at the Palladium, Mr Dowden tweeted: ‘I saw v comprehensive safety measures in place at @LondonPalladium this morning with @OfficialALW & Public Health England.

Other theatre safety measures planned by ministers   

  • Reduced venue capacity and limited ticket sales to ensure social distancing can be maintained;
  • Tickets will be purchased online and venues encouraged to use e-tickets to reduce contact and help with track and trace;
  • Venues should have clearly communicated social distancing marking in place in areas where queues form and adopt a limited entry approach;
  • Increased deep cleaning of auditoriums;
  • Performances should be scheduled to allow sufficient time to undertake deep cleaning before the next audience arrives;
  • Performers, conductors, musicians must observe social distancing wherever possible. 

‘Despite the huge challenges, we’re working intensively with them & others to get theatres open as soon as safe and I know that panto season is key.’

Ministers recently promised theatres, museums, galleries and other cultural ventures a £1.6billion bailout to stop them going under as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Thousands of venues will be able to seek emergency grants and loans in what ministers say is the biggest ever one-off investment in UK arts.

With no live performances and more than 350,000 staff furloughed, the industry has warned that it will be devastated without cash aid.

Boris Johnson hopes to allow audiences to return to indoor theatres and other performance venues from August 1, providing they follow social distancing rules.

Officials are currently carrying out experimental events to see whether this can work at practice, including with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Mr Johnson hopes that venues can be more fully opened in time for the panto season in November, which many theatres rely on for much of their income.

Mr Dowden said: ‘The UK’s performing arts sector is renowned across the world and I am pleased that we are making real progress in getting its doors reopened to the public with social distancing.

‘From August indoor theatres, music venues and performance spaces will safely welcome audiences back across the country.

‘This is a welcome step in the path to a return to normal and, coupled with our £1.57 billion rescue package, will help secure the future of this important sector.’     

Mr Dowden praised the measures as 'very comprehensive' and vowed to continue 'working intensively' to allow theatres to open in time for the vital Christmas panto season

Mr Dowden praised the measures as ‘very comprehensive’ and vowed to continue ‘working intensively’ to allow theatres to open in time for the vital Christmas panto season

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk